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Festival Activities

Balboa Park December Nights, the nation’s premier holiday festival, will take place for the 37th consecutive year on Friday, Dec. 5, 3-11pm, and Saturday, Dec. 6, noon-11pm. As always, the event brings families and friends together to spread holiday joy, learn more about the cultural value of Balboa Park and kick-off the “most wonderful time of the year.”

 2014 Activities!

  • Friday December 6:  9:30am-10:00PM 

    Saturday December 7: 9:30am-10:00PM  

  • At the Blind Community Center booth on the Prado, take a moment to enjoy hourly performaces by our blind carolers accompanied by guitar.
    Also explore and purchase beaded angels, light-up holiday beaded statues, knitted scarves and hats - all handmade by the blind. 

  • Hosts Gator by the Bay and Bon Temps Stage in the Plaza de Panama.

    Features rollicking Cajun/Zydeco music and dance lessons.

  • Hosted by Gator by the Bay and San Diego Bon Temps Social Club of San Diego featuring Cajun, Zydeco and Blues music and dance in Balboa Park. 

  • Presented by SWEA: Get a taste of Sweden on the California Quadrangle near the Museum of Man. 

    LUCIA, the candle-crowned Queen of Lights, is the traditional Swedish antidote to dark winter nights. She comes as the harbinger of Christmas and bringing hope to the world. 

    Located on the California Quadrangle stage, the annual celebration of the Santa Lucia Procession again brings this stirring festival of lights to December Nights. Enjoy the candle light procession and hear Lucia's attendants sing traditional Swedish songs of peace on earth, and to all people good will. 

    Also hosted by SWEA in the California Quadrangle:Swedish crafts, and traditional Swedish food favorites include: Meatballs, open-faced sandwiches, pea soup, rosettes (pastries), hot chocolate and glögg (hot spiced wine)

  • San Diego Civic Dance Company performs the classic "We Need a Little Christmas" Rockette-style number along with other favorites in the Casa del Prado patio.
    Performances are hourly from 5:15-9:15pm.
    Other dancers representing the City of San Diego Dance Arts Program will perform on Saturday at 12:00, 2:00, & 3:30pm.

    Each evening enjoy tomato basil pasta, cookie decorating, and photos with Santa and his elves. 

  • The Committee of One Hundred will be on site at the Panama-California Sculpture Court in the Courtyard of Casa del Prado to answer questions about the history of the "temporary" Exposition buildings and tell the stories behind the sculptures on display.

    6:00-8:00pm both nights

  • The Community Christmas Center Committee displays the 8-piece Nativity and Gingerbread House in the Organ Pavilion. The committee also installs Santa and his reindeer in the center Mall. A non-profit organization, the committee relies on public & private donations and hundreds of volunteer hours.
    Visit Santa on the east Peristyle beginning at 6:30pm!

  • Both groups will sell donuts and cinnamon rolls, water, soft drinks, and glow-in-the-dark items. 

  • Open Friday, 3-10:30pm; Saturday noon-10:30pm.

    At the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages 35 countries from around the world share their culture. Enjoy ethnic food.

    Music & dance performances on the International Lawn Stage

  • On Saturday Dec. 7th, enjoy the beauty of the garden's winding pathways, tranquil water features, bonsai collection, and stunning show-quality koi.
    The garden will be closed all day on Friday. The garden will be open for tours on Saturday from 12:00-4:00pm.

    Enjoy traditional Japanese food located at the front of the garden with Yakisoba noodles, rice bowls, apple cider and green tea.

  • A Christmas Carol returns for a 5th season. Animal characters enact the traditional story of how Ebeneezer Scrooge's greedy heart is changed after he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas' Past, Present, and Future. 
    Hand puppets and over-sized puppets

    30 minute shows at 6, 7, and 8pm.

  • See the winning structures from this year's "Gingerbread City" event, and also Procession, a parade of creatures made by Alice Hudson, creator of Wednesday's Palace. 
    Exhibitions: Surf Craft, Three on the Edge, and In The Realm of Nature. 

    Closed during the day Friday & Saturday. Open free 5-9pm.

  • Discover three centuries of photography in the Museum of Photographic Arts' exhibitions:
    New Visions: Art & Invention in the 19th Century
    Collective Restraint: Four Decades of Czech Photography
    We Are Family: Ninth Annual Youth Exhibition

    Also, take a moment to create your own frame-worthy shot in MOPA's photo booth complete with holiday props. MOPA's pop-store will be open in the Atrium

    The Museum will be closed during the day Friday Dec. 5th and Saturday Dec. 6th and will open at 5pm.

  • See the stars come out at night! Drink and dine among the famous sculptures curated in the open-air courtyard (replete with toasty heaters. All ages are welcome. 
    Brunch, lunch, and dinner offered, plus a full bar with over 18 local taps of craft beer. 

    Friday open 11am-11pm (kitchen closes at 10pm)
    Saturday open 10am-11pm (kitchen closes at 10pm)

  • Free, hands-on exhibits for all ages, including Illusion: Nothing is as it Seems; Genome: Unlocking Life's Code; and Kid City, an area geared for youngester ages 5 and under. Santa Claus will be here to listen to holiday wishes and pose for photos from 6-8:30pm.
    Enjoy special holiday music during the evening. IMAX films showing every hour on the hour.
    Take a souvenir seasonal photo in front of the green screen ($9.95)
    Make your own Crystal Snowflake ornament ($5)
    Free Gallery admission. IMAX Theater $9.95

  • Explore the weird and whacky Ripley's Believe it or Not! (additional $5, any age). Or experience a short film in the Zable 3D/4D Theater, fly in one of the motion simulators, or play in the children's activity station. 
    Photos with Santa

    Live music by the Rockin' Cranberries
    21-and-up beer garden

    SPECIAL HOURS: Closed both days until 3pm.
    Open FREE from 3:00-10:00pm (last admission 9:30pm)

  • C-Note Exhibition: all original artworks for sale in the gallery. Own it for only $100, $200, or $300. 

  • Visit with Santa and have your photo taken in a 1909 car! Bring your own camera. Donations accepted. 

    The "Lead Sled" exhibit will be closed.

    The museum will be closed during the day Friday Dec. 5 & Saturday Dec. 6th. Open from 5:00-9:00pm. 

  •  Award-winning San Diego Chorus will sell a variety of snacks on El Prado.

  • San Diego Civic Youth Ballet proudly presents excerpts of The Nutcracker.

    Take an extraordinary journey to the magical Land of Sweets with Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. Witness the epic battle between toy soldiers and mice before being whisked away to an enchanted land of falling snow, waltzing flowers, and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

    Casa del Prado Theater - 6:00, 7:00, & 8:00pm

  • Breathe in the spirit of the season at the Festival of Trees. With a glance back at 1915, the theme is "The Panama Canal Opens - San Diego Welcomes the World"
    Casa del Prado's Room 101 will be fragrant with fresh Noble fir trees, each decorated to represent a different country.

    Enjoy famous gingerbread cookies, or purchase exotic Protea blooms to use for holiday decor. 

  • San Diego's rich sports history comes alive in a festive holiday setting. Enjoy free children's holiday movies in our theater with photo opportunities with Santa and his Elf. 

    Movie Theater Schedule:
    5pm, Santa Claus in Comin' to Town
    6pm, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    7pm, Frosty the Snowman
    7:30pm, Frosty Returns
    8:00pm, A Charlie Brown Christmas
    8:30pm, It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown

    The San Diego Madres outside the museum has handmade crafts and facepainting. 

  • Kids and families won't want to miss the whimsical-side of Dr. Seuss with hands-on activities and crafts connected to some of Seuss' most popular children's storybooks as you explore Ingenious! The World of Dr. Seuss.*
    Also on view the continuation of our tribute to the military in San Diego: Presidio to Pacific Powerhouse: How the Military Shaped San Diego and a revamped and updated Place of Promise: Stories of San Diego reveals new objects, new stories, and new hands-on family activities.

    Friday, the San Diego Harmony Ringers perform at 6:30 and 7:45
    Saturday, St. Mark's Carillon Hand Bell Choir performs at 6:30 and 7:45

    *Timed visits in place for Dr. Seuss. 

  • Join Junior Theatre in celebration of the season with holiday songs sung by "JT on Tour". 

  • Explore two exhibitions: Lego City and Scales to Rails. Also children 10 and under experience the North Pole Main Line train ride. ($3 each). 
    See Santa from 5-9pm

    Friday: Closed during the day. Open from 5-9pm
    Saturday: Open from 11am-3pm. Re-open from 5-9pm. 

  • Enjoy the brand-new Monsters! exhibit with the whole family. Explore the newly updated Ancient Egypt exhibit (with real mummies and real artifacts) and the completely renovated Adventure Kids in Egypt area. 
    BEEROLOGY showcases thousands of years of beer history, and the giant Maya momuments in the grand rotunda are a sight to behold.
    Enjoy traditional songs from the Kumeyaay and other southern California tribes.

  • TRAIN: Enjoy an evening train ride and view the holiday lights aboard a 1948 G-16 Miniature Train. Fun for all ages. Tickets are $3. All Aboard!

    Friday, 4:00-9:00pm; Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm

  • Visit with artists and shop locally made art. Music and entertainment throughout the day and evening.

    Santa will be on hand from 5-10pm both evenings. A donation is requested for photos. 

  • Friday and Saturday closed during the day. Open 5-9pm. Free to the public. The exhibition Gauguin to Warhol will be closed. 

    Special Restrictions: Due to large crowds, we will not be able to allow: Pets, Umbrellas, Photography, Tri-pods, Mistletoe or other organics, Balloons, Food, Beverages including Water Bottles, Backpacks or other large packages.

  • Exclusive for December Nights from 10am – 4pm both days the San Diego Natural History Museum is offering a heavily-discounted “all-inclusive” ticket, which includes the special exhibition The Discovery of King Tut, general museum admission, and 3D movies. Up to 33% off, tickets are only $18 adults, $16 seniors, $15 military, $12 youth 7-17, and $9 child 3-6 for these special days.  

    From 5 – 9pm, enjoy free general admission to the museum’s permanent exhibitions, including Fossil Mysteries and Water: A California Story. Also experience the giant-screen theatre, showing exciting 3D films ($5 each). (The Discovery of King Tut will be closed during evening hours.)

    Enjoy live holiday music: the Pomerado Brass Quintet plays from 5– 6:30pm and the TubaFours from 6:45– 8:45pm.

    Don’t forget to pick up some real, locally-sourced mistletoe, sold by the Museum’s Canyoneers!

  • The Timken will feature the Putnam Foundation collection of fine Old Masters, along with teh annual Christmas tree displaying the exquisite Schlappi collection of Hord and Schlappi Christmas ornaments. 

  • Ornaments, holiday cards, nativities, and music from around the world. 

    Open 10am-11pm both days

  • The Veterans Museum will be closed